Rethinking Infidelity

Esther Perel asks so many good questions in this TED talk. Also, it's a very good example of storytelling! She gets her points across with humour and clarity. Watch!




Why do we cheat?
Why do happy people cheat?
When we say "infidelity," what exactly do we mean?

Why do we think that men cheat out of boredom and fear of intimacy, but women cheat out of loneliness and hunger for intimacy?
She says in her video: "the pressure for men is to boast and to exaggerate, but the pressure for women is to hide, minimize and deny, which isn't surprising when you consider that there are still nine countries where women can be killed for straying."
What's your reaction to this statement?

What is monogamy for?
Now, monogamy used to be one person for life. Today, monogamy is one person at a time. (Laughter)
I mean, many of you probably have said, "I am monogamous in all my relationships." (Laughter)
We used to marry, and had sex for the first time. But now we marry, and we stop having sex with others. The fact is that monogamy had nothing to do with love. Men relied on women's fidelity in order to know whose children these are, and who gets the cows when I die.

What is an affair?
The speaker said there are "three key elements: a secretive relationship, which is the core structure of an affair; an emotional connection to one degree or another; and a sexual alchemy. And alchemy is the key word here, because the erotic frisson is such that the kiss that you only imagine giving, can be as powerful and as enchanting as hours of actual lovemaking. As Marcel Proust said, it's our imagination that is responsible for love, not the other person."

Marriage has changed, so infidelity has changed
"Now, there are three ways that I think infidelity hurts differently today. We have a romantic ideal in which we turn to one person to fulfill an endless list of needs: to be my greatest lover, my best friend, the best parent, my trusted confidant, my emotional companion, my intellectual equal. And I am it: I'm chosen, I'm unique, I'm indispensable, I'm irreplaceable, I'm the one. And infidelity tells me I'm not. It is the ultimate betrayal. Infidelity shatters the grand ambition of love. But if throughout history, infidelity has always been painful, today it is often traumatic, because it threatens our sense of self.
So my patient Fernando, he's plagued. He goes on: "I thought I knew my life. I thought I knew who you were, who we were as a couple, who I was. Now, I question everything." Infidelity -- a violation of trust, a crisis of identity. "Can I ever trust you again?" he asks. "Can I ever trust anyone again?"


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